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Can Dry Eyes Cause Headaches?

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A young woman sitting at a desk with her laptop and holding her glasses in her left hand as she rubs her eyes.

Dry eyes can be a real nuisance and, if left untreated, can lead to more serious issues. When your eyes don’t produce enough tears or when your tears evaporate too quickly, dry eye disease can cause eye strain, redness, blurred vision, and, in some cases, headaches. 

The relationship between dry eyes and headaches is complicated, but there is some evidence to suggest that dry eyes may cause or worsen headaches and migraines for those who may already be vulnerable to headaches. 

If you’re experiencing dry eyes and headaches, it’s important to take action. There are a variety of treatments available to help relieve the symptoms of dry eyes and headaches, such as artificial tears, eye drops, and lifestyle changes. 

Taking the time to find the cause of dry eyes with an eye exam and address the issue can help you feel more comfortable and prevent further complications.

What Are the Symptoms of Dry Eyes?

Dry eyes can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms, including:

  • Redness
  • Burning sensations
  • Scratchiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Tired eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Eye pain 

These symptoms can be especially bothersome if you spend a lot of time in front of a computer or in air-conditioned and heated environments. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to take steps to address the underlying cause of your dry eyes. 

What Are the Causes of Dry Eyes?

Dry eyes can be caused by a variety of factors. A decrease in tear production or tear quality could be due to age-related changes to the glands in your eyelids, or it can be caused by certain medications. Additionally, environmental factors such as wind, air conditioning, and smoke can also affect your tear production and contribute to dry eyes. 

When your eyes don’t produce enough tears or your tears evaporate too quickly, you can lose the benefits of the protective tear film covering the front of your eye, leaving you with dry eyes that are vulnerable to increased irritation from your environment and other complications. 

If you’re experiencing dry eyes, it’s important to identify the cause. Talk to your doctor about any medications you’re taking, and consider lifestyle changes such as wearing sunglasses when outdoors and using a humidifier at home. Taking these steps can help reduce the symptoms of dry eyes.

A man sitting in an optometrist's office and looking into a machine that tests his vision.

How Can Dry Eyes Lead to Headaches?

The connection between dry eyes and headaches isn’t fully understood. There is some research that suggests dry eyes may make headaches worse, and further research has suggested that there may be a link between dry eyes and migraines for those who frequently experience headaches and migraines.

Eye strain can also be caused by dry eyes and can contribute to headaches due to the strain it can put on the muscles around your eyes. Dehydration can also be a factor worth considering—a lack of moisture in the body can cause headaches and dry eyes. 

All of these factors can contribute to headaches and dry eyes, so it’s important to keep your eyes hydrated and healthy.

Treatment Options for Dry Eyes & Headaches

If you’re experiencing dry eyes and headaches, you’re not alone. Many people suffer from both of these conditions, and the good news is that there are a variety of treatment options available. 

Eye drops are a common treatment for dry eye disease, and they can help reduce the discomfort associated with dry eyes. Additionally, making lifestyle changes, such as reducing screen time and avoiding smoke and dust, can help reduce dry eye symptoms. 

Over-the-counter medications may also be recommended to help relieve headaches, but you should always speak with a doctor before taking any new medication. 

In more severe cases, professional dry eye treatments or prescription medications may be necessary. We can help you determine the best course of action for your individual needs. With the right combination of treatments, you can find relief from both dry eyes and headaches.

How Signature Eye Care Can Help with Dry Eyes

Dry eyes can be a serious condition that can lead to several uncomfortable daily symptoms. It is important to be aware of the symptoms of dry eyes and understand the causes and treatments available. 

At Signature Eye Care, we are dedicated to helping our patients find relief from dry eyes. Our team of eye care professionals can provide personalized treatment plans to help you find relief while you maintain your overall wellness and eye health. Don’t wait any longer to get the help you need—contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.

Written by Dr. Jonathan Knutson

As a Doctor of Optometry, Dr. Knutson’s commitment to patients is his ongoing professional education. He takes pride in staying up-to-date as technology changes to ensure he can provide the latest and greatest care for your eyes. Dr. Knutson enjoys entertaining and is committed to providing a fun and enjoyable experience for his patients. He genuinely cares about his patients, placing utmost importance on the satisfaction of his care and products.
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